As I write this, I am in the midst of a horrific ice storm. Freezing rain followed a foot of snow, leaving an inch-thick crust of ice on everything, including the branches of the trees. The weight was more than many of the trees could bear. Many lost large branches; some snapped off eight or ten feet from the ground. Others bent low, bearing the weight but not yet giving in to it. Many toppled.
When I stand on my porch (the ice is too treacherous to venture out around the property) it sounds as if I’m surrounded by gunfire. The sharp snap of branches breaking is followed by a waterfall of ice hitting the ground. The mock orange trees, transplanted from Anne’s yard, that guard the entrance to my nature trail are bent so low that the tops of their branches now touch the ground. A clump of three birch trees, a long-ago Mother’s Day gift, look more like a weeping willow. The vine maple that’s so glorious in the Fall now arches forward like a supplicant on a prayer rug. My woods look as if a giant had flung down fistfuls of match sticks. The trees lean in all directions.
When we first bought this property, Carl and I took classes in how to care for the forest and we registered to participate in a reforestation program. As a part of that, we planted more than two hundred trees. The deer ate all the dogwood trees the first week but most of the fir and pine survived and were watered and nurtured. I have continued the program. Many of those first seedlings are now more than forty feet tall. I’m especially sad to lose some of those.
Some of the downed trees will provide firewood for next winter; others will become shelter for the rabbits, mice and birds. Fallen branches will turn to mulch and feed the forest that remains. And when Spring comes, as I know it will, I’ll plant again.